Arsenal legened Martin Keown has told Mikel Arteta to drop captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But the striker has struggled since, despite netting 14 times across all competitions this season, leading to criticism from supports amid what has been a disappointing season for Arsenal.
And after their latest defeat, a 3-0 home loss to Liverpool that could prove fatal to the Gunners’ European hopes, former defender Keown has told Arteta to drop his star striker.
“Arteta has a big decision to make on his captain,” he wrote in his MailOnline column. “He set an example by dropping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the north London derby recently. Aubameyang was supposed to start against Spurs but turned up late and was pulled.
“Should Arteta not be dropping him for performing as poorly as he did against Liverpool? If he sticks with him, he risks losing the respect of the group.
“It’s time to bring in 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli. He is too good to be sitting on the bench. His team-mates see him in training and know what he can do.
“They will be baffled by his continued absence. I know I am.
“Use him on the left. Use Martinelli’s fellow 19-year-old Bukayo Saka on the right. Start Emile Smith Rowe. Then you’ll have a team who can pose problems for the opposition. There were too many passengers against Liverpool.”
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
Speaking about the Liverpool defeat and the shortcomings of the Gunners’ attack, Keown added: “The visitors’ weakness was their centre back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips but Arsenal couldn’t test them.
“They had Aubameyang on the left, Alexandre Lacazette central and Nicolas Pepe on the right — three club-record signings — but they missed the energy and drive of Smith Rowe and Saka.
“There is no time for Arsenal’s players to feel sorry for themselves. They need to bounce back against a Prague side who have knocked Leicester and Rangers out of the Europa League.
“Arteta has big decisions to make — ones he needs to get right.”